Local restaurants roll out new summer menus for patio season: Jasmine Mangalaseril

It's been said in Canada it's either patio season or it's not.

With colourful umbrellas and sails appearing on sidewalks, parking lots and side yards throughout the region, patio season has arrived with a dish, drink and seat for everyone.

Most are pet-friendly and accessible to those with mobility issues, but it's best to call ahead to check. Along with events and live music, there's often lighter foods as well as gluten-friendly or plant-based dishes.

And if you're stopping by for a beverage, you'll find shareable pitchers, beers and wines, along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic craft cocktails.

Here's some of what's available if you want to hit a patio this summer.

Take advantage of street life

With part of Galt's Main Street closed to traffic, you can take in events and concerts, from either of Local 13's patios. Dine on their classics or try a plant-based power bowl or non-alcoholic blackberry mule from their summer menu.

At Choun Kitchen's seven-table patio on Queen Street in Hespeler you can catch Friday music and events. Their summer menu features signature food fusions like Indian-Thai, Jamaican-Chinese and French-Japanese.

"We have that element of fun on our menu, where we add a few things. We change it up every season, to give people a little bit of a twist, and to incorporate different cultures," front of house manager Sarahlynn Chounramany said.

Eat local

You'll find fresh, locally grown produce and other fantastic Ontario-produced ingredients on some summer menus around the region.

"We're so lucky with where we live ... all of the farmland around us and the great farms and the great producers," said Sabrina Hutchison, owner of Kitchener's Malt and Barley.

Their summer menu launches in a few days and features a Mediterranean chicken bowl with fresh greens and a malt and Bberry cocktail made with strawberry puree.

In Cambridge, when The Blackshop's new executive chef Denis Hernandez finds great ingredients for a dish, he adds it to the menu. Their Ontario tomato salad is made with Niagara vinegar, herbs from Strathroy, and Toronto-made feta. Have it on a couch or at a high-top on their plant-scaped patio.

Rustico's patio in Kitchener offers a leafy background, that includes twisty grape vines, while you dine on Italian dishes and listen to the Flamenco stylings of guitarist Juneyt (Thursday nights).
Rustico's patio in Kitchener offers a leafy background, that includes twisty grape vines, while you dine on Italian dishes and listen to the Flamenco stylings of guitarist Juneyt (Thursday nights). (Submitted by Rustico)

Guelph's Miijidaa and sister restaurants, The Wooly Pub and Borealis in Kitchener, are also launching summer menus soon, featuring Ontario proteins. They include:

  • Miijidaa's date night Wednesdays features a three-course dinner for two, which you can eat on their 36-seat patio.

  • The Wooly has a new poached pear and bacon flatbread as well as a feta and pear chicken wrap and they're bringing back the watermelon salad. Enjoy it on the back covered patio or the front porch.

  • Sangria Sundays (sober or not) are happening at Borealis' two patios, with tailor-made drinks.

Food tour of Europe

Kitchener's Malt and Barley, and uptown Waterloo's The Duke of Wellington, are getting into the Euro 2024 spirit.

Malt and Barley hopes to air as many soccer games as possible on the patio thanks to a new weatherproof TV system and if you show up for a morning match, you can have their egg and bacon breakfast sandwich.

The Duke's doors open to their 18-seat sidewalk patio, so you can listen to live music or the game. And while you're watching Mbappe, Bellingham, or Musiala, your dinner can help you root for your team.

"We're running a menu specifically designed for the Euros," The Duke's owner, Desi Fatkin explained. "We have items from around the world: for France we have Kronenbourg mussels, chip Bbutty for England, perogi for Poland, classic schnitzel for Germany, and we're doing a fun pizza for Italy."

Escape the cities

You can leave the cities and head out to New Hamburg's Puddicombe House for wood-fired pizza on their veranda, patio, or in one of their private gazebos.

Denis Fontana of Elora's La Fontana took over St. Jacobs' The Village Biergarten a few months ago. He's kept the old menu (and Block 3's beers) and added Detroit-style pizza to the offerings.

Red House's backyard patio in uptown Waterloo is surrounded by trees and tropicals.
Red House's backyard patio in uptown Waterloo is surrounded by trees and tropicals. (Submitted by Red House)

"A good opportunity to spend quality time with the people you love and have the good food (that) wraps up everything for you. That's what I do," said Fontana.

On Thursday nights (weather permitting), you can enjoy local Flamenco guitarist Juneyt while you eat traditional Italian dishes on Kitchener's Rustico's hidden leafy 60-seat patio.

At The Boardwalk, Meetpoint has monthly live music sessions (check their Instagram for announcements), which you can listen to while enjoying Turkish cuisine on their partially shaded 36-seat patio.

Staying in Waterloo, Red House's 16 seat street-facing patio is surrounded by trees and tropical plants. You can enjoy Tapas Tuesdays or try the Guyanese pepperpot chow mein, while sipping sorrel spice rum delight.

If you can't get up to the cottage, Kitchener's Moose Winooski's 250-seat double patio could be a stand-in.

With water features, Muskoka chairs, florals, and trees, their Canadiana-inspired summer menu includes the summery berry orchard salad and homemade Oreo ice cream sandwiches.